At least 16 people, including Ukraine’s interior minister, have been killed after a helicopter crashed in a suburb of the capital, Kyiv, according to Ukrainian emergency services.
Three children were among the dead and about 25 others wounded in Wednesday’s incident. They were being treated in hospital, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) said. A local official had earlier put the death toll at 18.
There was no immediate official statement on the cause of the crash. Russia, which invaded Ukraine nearly 11 months ago, has yet to comment.
Here is what we know so far:
Where did the helicopter crash?
The helicopter came down at about 8:20am local time (06:20 GMT) near a nursery and residential building in the town of Brovary, on the Ukrainian capital’s northeastern outskirts.
Videos shared on social media showed a burning building at the purported location where the helicopter came down. People could be heard screaming in the footage.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, said the helicopter – which belonged to SESU – was flying towards front-line positions in the country’s east when it crashed.
How many people were killed?
SESU said in a Facebook post that nine people were on board the helicopter in total. It was not immediately clear if any of the passengers had survived.
Fifteen people, including three children, were confirmed dead as of 11am local time (09:00 GMT), SESU said.
A further 25 people, including 15 adults and 10 children, were hospitalised with wounds sustained in the incident, SESU said.
Earlier, Oleksiy Kuleba, the governor of Kyiv region, had said 18 people were killed in the crash.
Who were on board?
Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyy, his deputy Yevhen Yenin and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yurii Lubkovych were among those travelling on the helicopter.
All three were killed in the crash, according to Ukraine’s National Police chief Ihor Klymenko.
Monastyrskyy was in charge of the Ukrainian police and other emergency services.
What caused the crash?
It was not immediately clear what had caused the helicopter to come down.
Ukrainian officials did not provide an immediate explanation and made no reference to any Russian attack in the area at the time.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said authorities had launched an investigation into the incident.
“For now, we are considering all possible versions of the helicopter crash accident,” Kostin said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.
There was no immediate comment from Russia.
What have been the reactions so far?
Ukrainian officials lamented the death toll from Wednesday’s incident, which came just four days after a Russian missile attack on an apartment building in the central city of Dnipro killed 45 civilians, including six children.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the helicopter crash was a “terrible tragedy” that had caused “unspeakable” pain.
“I have instructed the Security Service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the National Police of Ukraine and other authorised bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened,” Zelenskyy said in a post on Telegram, hailing the interior ministry leadership team who lost their lives as “true patriots” of Ukraine.
Prime Minister Denys Shmygal echoed Zelenskyy’s message and described the death of Monastyrskyy as a “great loss” for Ukraine’s government.
“My sincere condolences to the families of all the victims,” Shmygal said in a Telegram post.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto also called the crash “a very tragic event”.
“It’s a very sad day,” he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. “Children are [also] involved in this accident and are in intensive care, so this is a very dramatic event.”